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Guest Message by DevFuse

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TOWING WIRING Brake Controller Setup EASY!


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28 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   bhinkston

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 07:39 PM

This post is for those who are using their FLEX to tow a trailer that has electric brakes.

One of the reasons we chose the FLEX (besides its upscale looks and its overall performance) is that it was one of the few midsize vehicles that could tow a 3,500 pound popup camper (it tows up to 4,500 points). I currently use a 2000 Ford Expedition that can easily tow this, but its not a vehicle that is comfortable (or cheap at 12mpg) to drive long distances. Plus, I'm getting spoiled in my old age and like all the bells and whistles of the LIMITED version of the Flex, Navigation-Sync system, Sirius, Rear DVD for the kids, etc.

If you do get the optional tow package as a factory option, you probably know that the FLEX comes PRE-WIRED for both the 4-pin and 7-pin trailer electrical connection. What you may not know is that it also comes PRE-WIRED for an electronic brake controller for your trailer! There is an (unconnected) connecter underneath the driver's side dash which is used for this purpose. If you put your head in the footwell next to the brake pedal and look up into the guts under the dash, you'll find the unconnected electrical connector close to the diagnostic connector for the car.

What you need to do is buy any appropriate electronic brake controller (there are many out there) -AND- the "pigtail" (the opposite connector with wires coming out of it) from FORD parts department for this purpose. This pigtail is something like $16.50 USD plus tax. Then, either you or the FORD SERVICE department connects the ends of the brake controller to the pigtail and physically attaches the brake controller to the bottom of your dash. This without running any new wires!

I know this because FORD has been very intelligent about this for a while. My 2000 Ford Expedition was pre-wired in this fashion as well. When I was looking at the FLEX, I looked under the dash to confirm when I read it was all pre-wired as part of the factory installed, optional tow package.

Its the "little things" and the thought that has gone into this vehicle that makes it so impressive.

Have fun..

-B

Edited by bhinkston, 07 March 2009 - 07:51 PM.


#2 OFFLINE   vortchie

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 05:58 AM

Hi bhinkston. Do you happen to have the part number for that pigtail? My dealer seems to be having trouble finding it. If you could help it would be much appreciated.

Edited by vortchie, 27 March 2009 - 06:02 AM.


#3 OFFLINE   bhinkston

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 06:40 AM

Hi bhinkston. Do you happen to have the part number for that pigtail? My dealer seems to be having trouble finding it. If you could help it would be much appreciated.


Well, try this: F85B-14A348-P260G

The dealer should know the format of their part numbers to figure it out, but this is all the numbers off the pigtail tag underneath my dash.

Let me know if this does (or doesn't) work. I'll try to look again, or ask my dealer.

#4 OFFLINE   dbrand333

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 07:36 AM

Well, try this: F85B-14A348-P260G

The dealer should know the format of their part numbers to figure it out, but this is all the numbers off the pigtail tag underneath my dash.

Let me know if this does (or doesn't) work. I'll try to look again, or ask my dealer.


My dealer found the part you specified, it's the same as a 2005 superduty.

The issue is we could not find the plug-in under the dash.

Could you be more specific (pictures would help) about where it is stowed under the dash in the Flex.

#5 OFFLINE   bhinkston

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 08:16 AM

My dealer found the part you specified, it's the same as a 2005 superduty.

The issue is we could not find the plug-in under the dash.

Could you be more specific (pictures would help) about where it is stowed under the dash in the Flex.


Did your car come with a factory installed Class III hitch? If not, they may not have installed the pre-wiring in the factory. Just a guess.

I can take a picture, it will take me a few days. The plug-in was pretty easy to find, though. Under the drivers side dash, within 6-8 inches of the diagnostic plug-in is another plug-in with no "mate"... just waiting to be plugged into with something. Its closest to your right shin as I remember.

#6 OFFLINE   Nickshu

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 03:27 AM

My dealer found the part you specified, it's the same as a 2005 superduty.

The issue is we could not find the plug-in under the dash.

Could you be more specific (pictures would help) about where it is stowed under the dash in the Flex.


Here is a photo of the plug: The bottom of the photo is towards the rear of the car (edge of dash bottom), the brown connector you see is the trailer brake hookup. The blue connector at the bottom of the photo is the OBDII connector for the dealer diagnostic computer, which hangs down below the base of the dash.
, w
Posted Image

Edited by Nickshu, 16 May 2009 - 03:29 AM.


#7 OFFLINE   TweenerLJ

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 07:37 AM

This post is for those who are using their FLEX to tow a trailer that has electric brakes.

One of the reasons we chose the FLEX (besides its upscale looks and its overall performance) is that it was one of the few midsize vehicles that could tow a 3,500 pound popup camper (it tows up to 4,500 points). I currently use a 2000 Ford Expedition that can easily tow this, but its not a vehicle that is comfortable (or cheap at 12mpg) to drive long distances. Plus, I'm getting spoiled in my old age and like all the bells and whistles of the LIMITED version of the Flex, Navigation-Sync system, Sirius, Rear DVD for the kids, etc.


Let us know what MPG you get towing the trailer.

#8 OFFLINE   bhinkston

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 08:06 AM

Let us know what MPG you get towing the trailer.


Good question.

We put 3,000 miles on the Flex pulling our 3,500 trailer. It ranged between 15.5 an 17 depending on conditions (head wind, heading generally uphill towards continental divide, or downhill). This going 75-80 mph.

All things considered, I was not disappointed. We have the AWD version, which gets about 21 mpg at 65 miles/hour road speed w/o a trailer. Also, my Expedition gets about 10.5-12 mpg under the same road conditions.

It did an absolutely terrific job towing that weigh. Even twice in dicey ice/snow conditions. I rarely felt the engine struggling to stay up, though occassionally it stayed in 5th gear (not 6th gear) to pull at those higher speeds.

#9 OFFLINE   Shepski

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 08:39 AM

Great information!

Was 3,500 pounds the gross weight including the stuff you loaded or the empty weight of the trailer? Do you have a hard top or a tent trailer?

Did you use the "hill assist" feature of the transmission at all to eliminate 6th gear when pulling in hilly terrain?

I plan on pulling a trailer and am happy to see that the Flex does so well with that type of weight.

Thanks!

#10 OFFLINE   TweenerLJ

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 09:23 AM

Another question is where are you located? I find that in the Rockies (5,000-12,000ft), where I live, I cannot expect the mileage numbers that folks at lower elevations can get.I see you mention the continental divide, so you must be somewhere in the Rockies.

Edited by TweenerLJ, 18 May 2009 - 09:24 AM.


#11 OFFLINE   bhinkston

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 09:26 AM

Another question is where are you located? I find that in the Rockies (5,000-12,000ft), where I live, I cannot expect the mileage numbers that folks at lower elevations can get.


I live in Denver, CO. But, with the mileage numbers I quoted, I drove South (into NM) and West (in AZ) and not over the Continental Divide. I never got above 7,500 feet for more than a few miles.

Hope this helps.

#12 OFFLINE   bhinkston

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 09:40 AM

Great information!

Was 3,500 pounds the gross weight including the stuff you loaded or the empty weight of the trailer? Do you have a hard top or a tent trailer?

Did you use the "hill assist" feature of the transmission at all to eliminate 6th gear when pulling in hilly terrain?

I plan on pulling a trailer and am happy to see that the Flex does so well with that type of weight.

Thanks!


Well, I didn't actually weigh the trailer, so I am guessing here. Its empty weight is about 3,000 pounds. Add all those things you take on a trip, and I'm guessing about 3,500 total weight. Yes, it is a pop-up, not hard-side.

Going uphill, I don't use the "hill assist" feature... my opinion is going up-hill, the car is able to figure which gear is most appropriate on its own. However, going downhill I used the "hill assist" feature freqently ... especially in the Rockies where we do a lot of mountain driving.

Let me say something about the "hill assist" feature here. It is just more than a O/D lockout like on my Ford Expedition. It feels like a reverse cruise control. Once you set it at a certain speed, if you go higher, the hill assist keep gearing down to keep your car at the speed at which you set it. This is expecially noticeable pulling a trailer that is pushing you downhill.

Also, if you touch your brakes to bring your speed from 60 to 45, the hill assist feature dynamically keeps adjusting the gearing such that you stay at your new 45 speed. Same goes for the accelerator... you want to go back up to 60 from 45, you use the accelerator, and it keeps you at the new 60 speed.

This help?

#13 OFFLINE   TweenerLJ

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 11:13 AM

I live in Denver, CO. But, with the mileage numbers I quoted, I drove South (into NM) and West (in AZ) and not over the Continental Divide. I never got above 7,500 feet for more than a few miles.

Hope this helps.


Yep, that sounds good and gives me a good idea of your conditions. Thank you.

#14 OFFLINE   Shepski

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 11:19 AM

Sure does! Great to hear how the hill assist system works too.

Thanks again!

#15 OFFLINE   dbrand333

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 07:27 PM

Here is a photo of the plug: The bottom of the photo is towards the rear of the car (edge of dash bottom), the brown connector you see is the trailer brake hookup. The blue connector at the bottom of the photo is the OBDII connector for the dealer diagnostic computer, which hangs down below the base of the dash.
, w
Posted Image

Thanks for the picture, the plug was right there blocked by the other wire.

It gets better, I kept my brake controller harness from my 04 Excursion, ITS THE SAME PART! That never happens to me.

Thanks again.

#16 OFFLINE   Flex97

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 05:21 PM

Well, try this: F85B-14A348-P260G

The dealer should know the format of their part numbers to figure it out, but this is all the numbers off the pigtail tag underneath my dash.

Let me know if this does (or doesn't) work. I'll try to look again, or ask my dealer.


What an incredible and helpful post. I am doing my best to follow your instructions. I used the picture to locate the brown connector and went to the ford dealer to get the Pigtail. The pigtail number is F85B-14A348-P260F. According to the parts guy the last four digits are meaning less and is should be the same as the number you suggested. The pigtail has 4 wires with the ground being the only one on the second row. As far as I can tell the brown connector only has 3 pins all in a row. Does this sound right.

#17 OFFLINE   bhinkston

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 05:55 PM

What an incredible and helpful post. I am doing my best to follow your instructions. I used the picture to locate the brown connector and went to the ford dealer to get the Pigtail. The pigtail number is F85B-14A348-P260F. According to the parts guy the last four digits are meaning less and is should be the same as the number you suggested. The pigtail has 4 wires with the ground being the only one on the second row. As far as I can tell the brown connector only has 3 pins all in a row. Does this sound right.


I would guess that the last four numbers actually mean something... likely a revision or manufacturer lot number (P260G is later than P260F). But, likely not a problem as your ford dealer says.

The brown connector supports up to 6 conductors (3X2) but only has 4 (Row of 3, then 1) conductors actually connected.

My brake controller has 5 conductors. The dealer did the install, and I suspect that two of the wires from the brake controller are likely connected into just one of the conductors on the brown plug.

Good luck.

#18 OFFLINE   Quantum

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 03:08 PM

This thread is very informative. I hope to be buying a Flex in the next year or so, as the family hopefully grows in number. We are definitely looking to tow an RV, as I have have grown up RV'ing my whole life. You have answered a lot of questions that I had, and also I have learned that the Flex has Hill Assist. Does every Flex have this, or just the ones with the Tow Pkg?

#19 OFFLINE   403flex

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 03:12 PM

...Does every Flex have this, or just the ones with the Tow Pkg?

I think all do. Ours does not have factory tow, but it does have hill assist...

#20 OFFLINE   jrmgkia

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 08:29 AM

I should mention that as suggested above you can get the generic Ford pigtail but you will be splicing together the wires from your brake controller to the under dash connector, if you get the pigtail from the company that makes the brake controller it will be plug and play simple, a much better solution. You can see what I'm talking about on my website here: http://www.jasonandg...exhitch.html#40






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